Representing the creative future

Anna Pesonen’s guide to art as meditation

The "BREATHE" stylist explains how sculptures and spaces can help her find peace

I try to be present in everything I do. Especially as creatives, we’re always thinking about the next thing, the future. But experiences and relationships become better and richer when I’m in the now. The finger actually stays better on the pulse somehow when I just am and feel stuff out. 

Anna Personen styled the BREATHE by MCQ campaign. BREATHE, the seventh icon by MCQ, is inspired by meditation and the myriad ways air influences movement; literally and figuratively taking a breather.

I feel a sense of ease and belonging when I engage with and experience sculpture, certain types of architecture, and land art. There are some artworks and sites that I always go back to because they’ve had a profound effect on me, in almost an unexplainable manner. The Teshima Art Museum, by architect Ryue Nishizawa in Japan, is one of these sites, for example. There I simultaneously feel exhilarated and deeply calm. The work of artist Rei Naito, ‘Matrix (2010)’, which was exhibited at the museum, is based on Zen philosophy and the concept of nothingness. The work at first glance could go almost unnoticed, or not feel like a deliberate artwork by a human being but a natural phenomenon, and I find that so clever. This piece always makes me think of mine and all of our place in this universe. It’s a very simple execution but somehow guides us to some deep questions about our existence, and I love that duality.


Teshima Art Museum

The incredible Walter De Maria piece ‘‘Time/Timeless/No Time’ (2004)’ at the Chichu Art Museum, also in Japan, in Naoshima, had a very profound, I would say life-altering, effect on me. It expanded my awareness and thinking process in regards to the site-specific collaboration between art and architecture. The space envelopes you with such forceful presence and the energy feels very pure, spiritual even. It again sort of imposes a question on the viewer and it seemed to me that the answers can be found only within. The artwork fascinates me also as I personally have a strange concept of time- I can get lost in it when I’m by myself!

It has a huge, black granite sphere in the middle of the room, stairs going up and golden sculptures on the sides. It makes you feel like you are part of something bigger.

Walter De Maria piece ‘Time/Timeless/No Time’ (2004)’

Additionally, I really enjoy the sky spaces of James Turell. Again, the immensely large scale of these works has a calming effect on me. When you’re literally doing nothing but staring at the sky, you’ll inevitably remember how precious and wondrous life is. It gives perspective immediately and makes me feel like everything’s alright! It’s a very visceral experience.

It’s remarkable how these sites and rooms command a visitor to engage with the space in a very specific way like there’s no other option than to sit down and look up to the sky.

I usually enjoy the architecture of different places of worship as well. A religious building, like a church, a temple, a chapel, etc, makes me quite calm purely because of the combination of the scale of the rooms, the way the light falls, and how the acoustics are crisp and deep.

Another place that really is so calming to me is the Brancusi studio in Paris. I think I discovered it one of the first times I was in the city for Fashion Week ages ago, and it really felt like a conclave, a place only me and him knew about! It’s a very peaceful sanctuary right next to the Centre Pompidou which is bustling with tourists all the time. You enter the studio, in a building enveloped inside concrete walls, there’s only natural light, it’s very quiet and just feels so safe there surrounded by all his works and tools.

Brancusi's studio
Brancusi's studio

Lastly I also need to mention the work of Donald Judd, from furniture to space creation, which in all its simplicity is again perfect. Nothing to add, nothing to reduce. That always gives me a really peaceful, cosy feeling. Maybe coming from Finland has something to do with why I like that type of essentialism, as somehow it seems to be in our blood a bit as well.

Donald Judd

The art that I enjoy, transcends the hurry and pace of daily life and feeds my inner dialogue. That’s what I think it should essentially do; spark conversation and make us feel more human. And whenever that happens to me, I’m at peace.